Law firm ordered to pay US$58k in botched Jumbo deal

Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo has ordered a law firm to reimburse a South African businessman US$58 000 following a botched elephant deal.

Justice Moyo, Friday, ordered that Mutuso, Taruvinga and Mhiribidi Attorneys pays back Elkse Burger the money within seven working days.

Burger entered into a deal with one Langton Masunda, who has a farm in the Gwayi Conservancy, whereby the latter was supposed to sell Burger four sub-adult elephants.

According to their agreement, Burger was to deposit into the law firm’s trust account the money he was charged for the jumbos.

If Masunda failed to honour his side of the bargain, the money will be returned to Burger. Masunda fail to deliver his end of the bargain, Burger would have his money back.

The deal went sour when Masunda failed to deliver the elephants to his client.

The law firm also failed to pay back Burger, representing Parrklip Trading (a company duly incorporated into the laws of South Africa) his money within the stipulated period.

Through his lawyer, Professor Welshman Ncube of the Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, Burger made an application to the High Court seeking an intervention that his money is returned.

He cited three lawyers from the law firm: Arnold Taruvinga, Proud Mutuso, David Mhiribidi as respondents together with Langton Masunda.

According to the application, the parties struck the deal in June 2018 and there was an agreement that if by 31 July, 2018 the elephants were not delivered Burger would be refunded hi money in full.

Delivering her judgment, Justice Moyo stated that since Masunda failed to deliver the elephants as per the agreement, the law firm, into whose trust account the money was deposited, should refund Burger.

“I accordingly find that the money paid in Trust is to be held until the occurrence of an event and since that has failed, then it should be paid back to its owner. The whole essence of paying money into a trust is to cater for such an eventuality. This sum-so payable-is claimable in foreign currency as it was a foreign debt,” Justice Moyo said.

In his application, Burger argued that the merit of his case lay in that the money was paid into the trust account for the agreement to be brought to fruition.

“The contract only went wrong when Masunda failed to capture the elephants by July 31, 2018, because they were not there at his farm. On August 9, 2018, I made a demand for refund but it was not honoured. It was followed by several more but still, there was no response,” Burger stated.

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